The au pair program in the United States is an exchange program. For this reason, the government regulations which cover the au pair program require that the au pair is treated as part of the host family, not as an employee. This does not mean the au pair does not have duties and work, and it does not mean an au pair will sleep late and sip latte all day. The exchange program involves cultural exchange, education, and child care duties. Any au pair candidate will understand before applying that child care is not only serious responsibility, it is also not easy and tiring. As is true for any family, host families are different, and their childcare requirements and expectations are different, so long as they comply with the government regulations. Just as au pair candidates are screened, host families are also screened to ensure the living and working environment for the au pair matched with the family is appropriate and mutually beneficial.
Au pairs may be expected to:
1. Provide quality child care to the host family for up to 45 hours per week (no more than 10 hours in any day).
2. Have no other employment during the au pair program for one year, and during any extended time.
3. Perform household duties related to child care, which may include:
Keep your room clean, do the children's laundry, set the table for children's meals, wash and dry children's dishes, clear the table after children's meals, prepare meals for children, drive children to and from activities (and school, if applicable), play with children and keep them occupied with positive activities, help school-aged children with homework, if requested to, and other similar duties.
4. Engage in cultural exchange activities with the host family.
5. Follow Sponsor's specific program requirements (e.g. no-smoking, no drugs, no alcohol abuse, behaving appropriately in and out of the house, participate in at least one Family Day Conference or cultural event with the host family, etc.).
6. Obey host family rules, such as keeping the host family informed of whereyou are going and when you are expected to return, observe reasonable curfews, share the computer and telephone, obtain permission before inviting friends to the host home, etc.
7. Complete the educational requirement during their one-year program (6 or 12 credit hours, depending on the program).
Au pair candidates can specify the number of children they are willing to care for in a host family in their application. It should be understood that the more restrictive the conditions by the au pair, the less likely of finding a host family match. Au pair candidates can not specify the location of their host family.
Au pairs can expect the following benefits:
1. To be treated as a member of the host family.
2. To have his/her own private bedroom.
3. Be limited to 45 hours of working time per week and no more than 10 hours in any one day.
4. To have one weekend off per month, and one and one half days off per week.
5. To receive two weeks of paid vacation during the one year program.
6. Receive a stipend of at least $195.75 per week ($146.81 for EduCare).
7. To receive $500 (or $1,000 for EduCare) educational stipend.
8. Receive transportation to and from the educational institution.
9. Share American culture with the Host Family.
10. Not be required to perform heavy housework, such as lawn mowing or cleaning the entire house or doing the whole family's laundry.